The word chiropractic comes from a combination of the Greek words kheiro and praktikos meaning ‘done by hand’.
Chiropractic is a healthcare discipline firmly grounded in science. Although mainly focusing on the relationship between the skeletal and nervous systems, it is concerned with the care of the entire body. Chiropractors use a range of methods to diagnose the state of your health, including a thorough chiropractic, neurological and orthopaedic assessment that may include the use of x-rays. Particular attention is paid to the neuro-musculo-skeletal system (nerves, muscles, bones and joints) and treatment consists of joint and soft tissue manipulation, and manual adjustments. After medicine and dentistry, chiropractic is the third largest healthcare profession in the world with over 60,000 chiropractors worldwide. Like dentistry, chiropractic emphasises the role of preventative care, helping to ensure that minor problems do not become major ones.
How does chiropractic work?
Chiropractic recognises that your body has a powerful ability to deal with and heal various knocks, bumps and injuries, as well as to detoxify and destroy the day-to-day poisons and bugs that you encounter all the time. This healing ability is organised and co-ordinated by your nervous system: the brain and spinal cord, together with all the nerves that connect the spinal cord to every single cell in your body. There are times when your nervous system becomes compromised; this can be due to malfunctioning in the bony system that protects your brain and spinal cord. So, if the normal movement in your skull, spinal column or pelvis is disrupted, this can cause interference with the associated nervous system structures. This is known as a chiropractic subluxation, and can affect any part of your body, preventing you from feeling and functioning to the best of your ability.
The nervous system is bathed in a specialized fluid known as cerebo-spinal fluid (CSF). CSF is designed to nourish, cushion, protect and remove toxins from the nervous system. It is important that this fluid flows freely throughout the system, helping to keep your brain and spinal cord healthy. Injuries from birth trauma to early childhood falls can lead to a disturbance in the movement of the delicate bones of the skull. This in turn can lead to a disruption in the subtle flow of CSF in the cranial passages. Gentle pressure to the surface of the skull can relieve and restore the abnormal fluid movement that may go undetected for years before a major cranial problem occurs. Chiropractic subluxations can also hinder the flow of CSF, thus influencing the health of the nervous system. Chiropractic is a highly skilled and developed approach to removing subluxations, allowing you and your body to fulfil your maximum potential.
Sacro Occipital Technique
There are many techniques that chiropractors can use to address subluxations. The main one used here at the Weston Chiropractic Centre is Sacro-Occiptal Technique (SOT) which includes Cranial Chiropractic. These techniques are particularly focused on looking after you as a whole person and not just at where you have pain. A fundamental objective of SOT is to balance the co-ordinated movements in the skull, the spinal column and the pelvis, removing the subluxations. This is effective not only in relieving your pain but also allowing your nervous system to get on with the role of organising the rest of your body without interference. SOT employs wedge shaped blocks positioned under your pelvis when you are lying on your back or front. The blocks allow the body to adjust to its correct alignment and balance, allowing normal spinal movements and CSF flow. There are many combinations of the block positions that may be used, determined by tests that precede each adjustment. SOT and craniopathy recognise the importance of the body’s language in the form of neurological tests, weak muscles and tender areas. Your chiropractor will use these together with various signs and indicators to determine the type of adjustment needed. As the body responds and heals, stress areas throughout the body are eliminated, allowing your body to cope better with both daily life and unaccustomed activities.
How are Chiropractors trained?
The Chiropractic qualification is a full time four to six year university Masters degree. Following this, every year each Chiropractor has to meet the demands of the Continuing Professional Development in order to maintain their skills and knowledge and continue their registration with the governing body the General Chiropractic Council.
The regulation of Chiropractic
The Chiropractic Act received Royal Assent in 1994 which enabled the establishment of a General Chiropractic Council, and a General Register of Chiropractors has been established to maintain patient safety. Just as a Doctor of Medicine or Dentist has to be registered, so do Chiropractors. It is illegal to practice as a chiropractor whilst not listed on the General Register of Chiropractors.
Should I see my GP first?
Chiropractic is a primary healthcare profession and as such the training prepares practitioners to assess and diagnose many conditions. Chiropractors are trained to recognise not only conditions that are within the scope of chiropractic care, but also those for which it may not be appropriate. In this case your chiropractor will liaise with your GP and refer you as necessary. Therefore it is absolutely safe to consult a chiropractor without seeing your GP first.